A Word on Statistics

Wislawa Szymborska

(Translated from the Polish by Joanna Trzeciak)

Out of every hundred people,
   those who always know better:

Unsure of every step:
   almost all the rest.

Ready to help,
   if it doesn't take long:

Always good,
   because they cannot be otherwise:
   four -- well, maybe five.

Able to admire without envy:

Led to error
   by youth (which passes):
   sixty, plus or minus.

Those not to be messed with:

Living in constant fear
   of someone or something:,

Capable of happiness:
   twenty-some-odd at most.

Harmless alone,
   turning savage in crowds:
   more than half, for sure.

   when forced by circumstances:
   it's better not to know,
   not even approximately.

Wise in hindsight:
   not many more
   than wise in foresight.

Getting nothing out of life except things:
   (though I would like to be wrong).

Balled up in pain
   and without a flashlight in the dark:
   eighty-three, sooner or later.

Those who are just:
   quite a few, thirty-five.

But if it takes effort to understand:

Worthy of empathy:

   one hundred out of one hundred --
   a figure that has never varied yet.


Copyright © 2012

Schuyler W. Huck
All rights reserved.

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